CHARLOTTE, N.C., FEB. 10 -- Kevin Johnson's game-winning shot was good. On line. With arc. Picture perfect three-pointer.

Then Utah's Karl Malone got in the way. Problem is they were both playing for the Western Conference in the 42nd NBA All-Star Game, and Malone's offensive basket interference with two seconds to play made Johnson's form moot and left the Eastern Conference a 116-114 victor before 23,530 fans at Charlotte Coliseum.

In an All-Star Game more exciting than many in recent years, the East dominated the rebounding, 61-46. The East's Charles Barkley (Philadelphia) grabbed 22 rebounds, scored 17 points and was chosen most valuable player.

Barkley's boardwork outshone native Carolinian Michael Jordan (Chicago), who had 26 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. What may have kept Jordan from the MVP honor was his 10 turnovers in running the East offense most of the day.

Washington's Bernard King got the all-star appearance he had dreamed of, receiving a warm standing ovation when he was introduced as an East starter. King played 26 minutes, scored eight points and had a dandy over-the-head assist to the Knicks' Patrick Ewing for a late-game dunk.

"I've had so many emotional highs the last two weeks," King said, "with the selection process, the game in New York {where he torched the Knicks for 49 points} and all of these things. But the game was not anticlimactic. I enjoyed every bit of it. I was a fan sitting on the bench watching these guys play. During the season you don't get to watch them."

The game was decided in the final seconds, after the West erased an 11-point third-quarter deficit. Neither team scored in the final 1:35, though the West had the last best chance.

Coach Rick Adelman's squad went for a last-possession win with a two-man game pairing the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson and San Antonio's David Robinson. Johnson passed low to Robinson, but Jordan stepped into the lane and knocked away the ball. It came back out to Magic Johnson, who whipped the ball over to a wide-open Kevin Johnson (Phoenix) on the left wing.

"I really thought it was in," Portland's Adelman said. "Kevin released it well, and he got good lift on his shot. He was dead open. That's all you can ask for is a wide-open shot."

But as it neared the rim, Malone put a hand on it. The proper call was made and the East got the ball. Jordan dribbled out the time before any West player could foul him, and Kevin Johnson playfully mock-kicked Malone in the posterior.

"I just wanted to run and hide after I did it," Malone said.

There was some question as to whether Johnson's final shot would have been short if Malone had not interfered.

"I don't need the cameras," Kevin Johnson said. "I know it was going in. We just kind of laughed about it after."

The West had balance, with Malone, Robinson and Magic Johnson each scoring 16 points. But Robinson got in foul trouble in the first half, and played just 18 minutes.

With the West missing one of its two big men -- it had five point guards -- the East pounded away at the smaller team, using Barkley and Ewing (18 points, 10 rebounds). The game slowed to a crawl with the half-court defense both teams played.

"A powerful game for Mr. Barkley," Boston's Robert Parish said. "Just imagine if he had two good feet."

It was the end of a wild week for Barkley, who returned to the 76ers' lineup after missing seven games with a sprain and stress fracture of his left foot, then was told by the league he couldn't sit out this game.

"I'm glad I came here," Barkley said. "I didn't do anything until I came here today. I think people tried to make a big deal about it. And it wasn't a big deal. They said if you're healthy enough to play for the Sixers you can come to the game. And I can live with that."

After an 11-0 East run to end the first half, the West had a 16-6 burst to start the second half and took an 83-81 lead late in the third quarter on a dazzling alley-oop dunk, Portland's Terry Porter to teammate Clyde Drexler (12 points). The East led, 94-92, going into the fourth.

"The first half is more or less entertainment," Jordan said. "The second half is when you start to concentrate on winning the game."

Indeed, though there were the usual allotment of dunks and transition baskets, both teams maneuvered into the passing lanes and double-teamed down low. There were 15 blocked shots, a testament to weak-side defensive help.

"It was probably the best-played all-star game in quite some time," Drexler said. "Both teams had intensity on defense. You always see the intensity on offense . . . guys were even playing unselfishly, which is something you hardly see at an all-star game."

The fourth quarter seesawed before the East scored eight straight to take a 103-100 lead on a Jordan drive. The West was still within 110-107 with 3 1/2 minutes left but that's when King and Ewing hooked up, King making a no-look touch pass over his head to Ewing on the right side. Ewing roared in for the dunk.

"The thing that will stick with me in this game is the pass I gave Patrick," King said. "I was certainly looking forward to playing with him. We didn't get the opportunity to do that in New York. So when I got him that pass and he hit that monster slam, I felt like a guard does, I guess."