EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 23 (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets' playoff journey began with a subtle but significant bump in the road.

The Nets became the first home team to lose in the postseason as Nenad Krstic bumped Anthony Johnson, whose two free throws with in the final second gave the Indiana Pacers a 90-88 victory in their Eastern Conference first-round opener.

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Foul-plagued Jermaine O'Neal scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for the sixth-seeded Pacers, who again proved their playoff mettle with patient, smart play down the stretch.

"We've been through an awful lot not only this year, but the last few years," O'Neal said. "The guys really kept talking to each other during timeouts. The five guys on the floor kept telling each other just to be patient and we'll give ourselves and opportunity to win."

Vince Carter needed 33 shots to score 31 points for the third-seeded Nets, who are considered a dark horse for the title and may be experiencing some deja vu. New Jersey also lost a postseason opener at home to Indiana in 2002 - the first year they reached the NBA Finals.

A follow slam by Carter produced the game's 15th tie at 88-88 with 32 seconds to go. The Pacers went to O'Neal, who passed out of a double-team. The ball wound up with Austin Croshere, who missed a corner jumper but tracked down the rebound.

Johnson, a former Net, began his move from well above the arc with five seconds left. He got a step on Kidd and took a bump as he rose for a runner over the 7-foot Krstic that missed as the whistle blew with 0.9 seconds left, bringing a groan from the crowd.

"I was trying to make a play," Johnson said. "The refs called the foul and I was able to make some big free throws."

"Anthony Johnson is a guy that you can count on," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's just one of those guys that fits that description. He's a major reason our team has held together through some difficult circumstances."

Replays showed the foul appeared to be on Kidd but was called on Krstic. Johnson drained both free throws to give Indiana the lead.

"It looked like a foul," Carlisle said. "It was pretty clear to me that there was a foul there and they did the right thing."

"The foul on Krstic seemed like a really, really hard call," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "I didn't see a problem with it, but I haven't seen the replay yet. The game was in the balance for either team to take, so we are not going to look at the officials for the reason we lost the game."

A 22-footer from the corner by Richard Jefferson bounced off the rim as time expired, allowing the Pacers to escape with the win.

Stephen Jackson had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who had five scorers in double figures. Reserve Fred Jones, returning from a torn ligament in his left thumb, scored 15 points and Johnson and Peja Stojakovic added 12 apiece as Indiana shot 47 percent (30-of-64).

Krstic scored 22 points and Jefferson added 19 for the Nets, who never led in the last six minutes.

Carter made just 12-of-33 shots but grabbed a career playoff high 13 rebounds. He was 1-of-8 from 3-point range as the Nets went a franchise-worst 1-of-15, undoing their team record-low six turnovers.

"I missed a few in a row and was like, 'Hey, I might as well try to get to the basket,'" Carter said. "When that wasn't working for me, I didn't know what I was going to do. I just kept at it."

A non-factor through three quarters, O'Neal conducted a clinic in the low post in the final period as he worked over Jason Collins and Cliff Robinson, both very good post defenders. He fouled out Collins as he blew past him for a lefthanded dunk that gave the Pacers an 85-82 lead with 1:55 to go.

"I just kept telling myself the entire time on the bench to stay focused and be patient, and hopefully I'll get the opportunity to be effective in the fourth quarter," O'Neal said. "I think the difference now is that that the team is really focused."

Krstic sank a jumper, but Jeff Foster put home a follow shot and a free throw around a drive by Jefferson, leaving the Pacers with an 88-86 lead with 46 seconds remaining.

Despite O'Neal's early struggles, the Pacers hung in as Carter repeatedly settled for jumpers instead of attacking the basket. Indiana held a 50-46 halftime lead but managed just 14 points in the third quarter, when O'Neal picked up his fourth foul.

Carter benefited from a couple of questionable foul calls down the stretch.

With 4:35 remaining, the All-Star made a scoop shot despite running over Johnson - who appeared set in the lane - and fell very hard to the floor on his back. With 3:21 left, he drove the right side and converted another scoop, with Jackson getting whistled. Carter failed to convert his free throws after each basket, both times leaving the game tied.

"It's all sore right now, but come game time (Tuesday), I'll be ready to go," Carter said. "If I feel sore now, it's going to be really sore (Monday)."