TORONTO -- Vince Carter threw down a windmill dunk the first time he got the ball, setting the tone for an inspired game by the Toronto Raptors as they defeated the New York Knicks 100-93 Wednesday night.
Tying their best-of-five series at 2-2 and forcing a deciding fifth game Friday night, Carter and the Raptors looked nothing like the overanxious, poor-executing bunch that withered in Game 3.
Carter scored 32 points, his most in seven career playoff games, and ex-Knick Chris Childs added a career playoff-high 25 on 8-for-11 shooting as Toronto won a home playoff game for the first time in franchise history.
The Raptors controlled the offensive boards, played intense defense and broke the game open with a 12-1 run beginning late in the third quarter to send the series back to Madison Square Garden for one more game.
After being criticized by teammate Charles Oakley for failing to act like a superstar and deflecting criticism onto the team as a whole, Carter had a different look in his eye from the outset.
He drove right around Latrell Sprewell just over two minutes into the game for a thunderous, highlight-reel dunk, firing up the crowd, his teammates and himself, and looked to drive to the basket rather than continually settle for the type of outside shots that contributed to him shooting 31 percent in the first three games.
Carter finished 10-for-22 from the field and 10-for-14 from the line with seven rebounds and four assists. Alvin Williams bounced back from a poor Game 3 and added 18 points, while reserve Jerome Williams provided boundless energy and tight defense on Glen Rice to help shut down the Knicks offense in the second half.
Following his first dunk, Carter added another dunk, a 3-pointer and a 20-footer to help Toronto to a 26-22 lead after one quarter.
Houston hit all five of his shots in the first half and Sprewell shot 5-for-8, yet the Knicks trailed 44-41 at the half despite shooting 60 percent as a team. Working against them were their 12 turnovers and just one offensive rebound, which allowed Toronto to play from ahead for most of the half.
Childs scored on a finger roll early in the third for a 56-47 lead, but the Knicks kept finding high-percentage shots and chipping away at the lead until Mark Jackson tied it at 62-all on two free throws with 3:23 left in the third.
Antonio Davis picked up his fourth foul moments later, and Childs picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in the final two minutes of the third. The Knicks committed just one turnover in the quarter, yet they still trailed 70-64 entering the fourth after Carter scored four points from the free throw line in the final minute.
The Raptors blocked New York's first two shots of the fourth, and Carter hit a 3-pointer with 11:18 left and then fed Alvin Williams for a corner jumper that gave Toronto a 75-64 lead.
Alvin Williams hit a jumper off an offensive rebound and Carter turned a putback into a three-point play to put Toronto ahead 84-70 with 7:16 left. New York responded with a 12-4 run as Toronto couldn't seem to connect from the field, but Childs made a 3-pointer with 1:28 left for a 93-82 lead.
The Knicks pulled within five and Carter missed two foul shots with 20.8 seconds left, but the Raptors grabbed their 11th offensive rebound and Childs hit two foul shots with 16.5 left to ice the victory.
Houston scored 27 and Sprewell had 24 to lead the Knicks, who got little help from Marcus Camby in his first game in almost a week. Camby finished with four points, four rebounds and four fouls in 33 minutes.
Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky attended the game and got a huge ovation. ... Most of the Raptors donned headbands for the game, although Davis and Alvin Williams did not. Carter wore knee-high white socks. ... Toronto rookie Morris Peterson, who did not play in Game 3, went 0-for-2 in six first-half minutes and did not return.