INDIANAPOLIS, April 29 (Ticker) -- Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets have reduced their best-of-seven series with the Indiana Pacers to a best-of-three.

Carter scored eight of his 28 points in the final four minutes as the Nets defeated the Pacers, 97-88, to level their Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece.

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Carter added seven assists, six rebounds and six steals for the Nets, who host Game Five on Tuesday.

"It came down to execution and focus," Carter said. "They jumped on us quick the other night and our shooting went south. Tonight, we weathered the storm and stayed focused. This was a big win for us and now, if we want to be known as a good playoff team, we have to protect our home court."

"Vince did a phenomenal job tonight," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Not only was he a scorer, but he was a great playmaker, too. He stepped up big and that's what great players do."

Richard Jefferson scored 22 points and Nenad Krstic 21 for New Jersey, which jumped out to a 22-8 advantage and led thereafter.

"The start of the game was real big for us," Jefferson said. "We wanted to come out and set the tone early and I think we did that. Everyone contributed. Nenad hit some big shots. I really think, outside of Dirk (Nowitzki), he's the best-shooting big man in the league."

The Pacers reduced a 76-57 deficit entering the final period to 91-86 on a 3-pointer by former Net Anthony Johnson with 2:06 to go, but Carter countered with a jumper and Indiana got no closer than five points thereafter.

"We dug a deep hole and we weren't able to get out of it," Johnson said. "We were able to cut it to five in fourth, but playing from behind against these guys isn't the recipe for success."

The Nets scored 23 Indians turnovers into 23 points. The Pacers converted 11 New Jersey giveaways into just eight points.

"The story of the game, statistically anyway, is turnovers," Pacer coach Rick Carlisle said. "The early fouls that took our better players out were a factor, but we have to do better (at not turning the ball over). We had an opportunity."

Jermaine O'Neal had 22 points to pace Indiana, which was missing forward Peja Stojakovic (sore right knee).

"We've been in this position before," O'Neal said. "We know what we have to do. It's a tough environment in New Jersey. We were without Stojakovic today and it looks like we might be without him (for Game Five), so we are going to have to figure out a way. It's a three-game series now."