SALT LAKE CITY -- Karl Malone will make his movie debut as a frontier scout in the soon-to-be released movie "Rockwell."
Playing before a partisan crowd of 19,459, Malone played a big role in yesterday's NBA All-Star Game at the Delta Center. And as usual, he shared the limelight with Jazz teammate John Stockton, who made the critical passes, shots and a game-clinching steal in overtime, as the West All-Stars survived to win the three-hour thriller, 135-132.
It seemed only fitting that Malone and Stockton were named co-MVPs since their pro basketball careers have been so closely entwined.
"If you were writing a movie, this would have been the perfect script, John and I sharing the award before the hometown fans," said Malone, who scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Malone, who won MVP honors in 1989, would have won his second trophy individually if the West had not frittered away a five-point lead in the final 32 seconds of regulation with Patrick Ewing's jumper with :08 left forcing the extra period.
But Stockton, regarded as the league's premier playmaker, was more visible in the overtime. He first fed Malone for a layup, and then scored two of his own for a 128-125 lead.
But the East, led by Michael Jordan's 30 points and Mark Price's record six three-pointers, refused to go away.
It was within range of tying it with another three-point shot after Golden State's Tim Hardaway missed two free throws with 24 seconds remaining. But Stockton came to the rescue, swiping the ball from Price in the corner.
San Antonio's David Robinson put it out of reach by hitting two free throws in the closing seconds.
Asked about his strong link with Stockton, who finished with 15 assists, nine points and six rebounds, Malone said: "I'm from the country, and it's like they say, 'You don't know which came first, the chicken or the egg?' But does it really matter?"
But Malone admittedly was the more nervous of the two performing before the hometown fans.
"I get nervous before all 82 regular-season games, but I had more butterflies tonight than even before my first NBA game," said Malone, an All-NBA forward and member of America's gold-winning Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics.
"I want to play well every night, but especially at home where you don't want to let the home fans down."
"Coach Westphal let us run our favorite '34' play to death when we were on the floor together," noted Malone.
Westphal corrected him. "I just stole that play from [Jazz coach] Jerry Sloan," he said.
Asked if the Jazz duet received favorable treatment in the MVP balloting because of the home-court advantage, Westphal said: "They deserved to win no matter where the game was played. Stockton's the best point guard in the game and Malone arguably is the best power forward, although I have a guy named Charles Barkley whom you'd have to consider."
But it was the likes of Barkley, Malone, Stockton, Price and Jordan who proved that the "old-timers" were not quite ready to pass the torch to the new breed, who were represented by first-time All-Stars Shaquille O'Neal, Larry Johnson and Shawn Kemp.
"The Jazz boys carried us," said an unusually humble Barkley. "But Shaq represents the future of the NBA."
O'Neal, Orlando's 7-foot, 300-pound rookie phenom, was voted the starter over Ewing for the East, which did not sit well with Riley, the New York center's coach. O'Neal turned in a solid, if not spectacular, 14-point, seven-rebound performance. Ewing finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
But it was the three-point shooting of Price, who won the long-range shootout on Saturday, that gave the game some suspense after both teams struggled with their marksmanship in the first half.
Price eclipsed the record of four threes set by former Lakers star Magic Johnson in 1990.
"The one end of the court was real good for shooting three-pointers," said Price. "That's the same side where I won my shootout. But after I hit my sixth one tonight, it was clear the West didn't want me taking any more and really played me tough on the outside.
"That helped open things up for Jordan inside when we made our rally in regulation," he said. "Me? I just hope I haven't used up all my threes for the season."
But the game had the perfect ending for the Utah fans as both Malone and Stockton stood at midcourt holding the MVP trophy aloft. All you needed was a close-out of Malone riding off into the sunset on his white charger.