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Nowitzki's 28 not enough as Parker, France top Germany

MADRID, Spain -- Tony Parker scored 23 points and France
defeated Germany 78-66 Saturday, moving closer to a place in the
quarterfinals of the European basketball championship.

Florent Pietrus and Tariq Kirksay both added 12 points for
France, while Dirk Nowitzki led Germany with 28 points.

"In the preliminary round we didn't move the ball well, and
sometimes just watched Tony Parker make plays," Pietrus said.
"The players were more active and ... it was easier for us to
score and win the game."

Lithuania and Slovenia reached the European championship
quarterfinals after winning second-stage games in Group F Saturday.

Unbeaten Lithuania needed a hard-fought 79-74 win over Olympic
runner-up Italy, while Slovenia kept a perfect record with a 66-51
victory over Turkey.

Toronto Raptors center Radoslav Nesterovic led Slovenia with 13
points. NBA players Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur scored 17 and
14 points, respectively, for Turkey.

Both Germany and France played a high-tempo game at the start,
but back-to-back unsportmanlike fouls on Steffen Hamann and Patrick
Femerling allowed France to take a 21-13 lead.

Leading 26-20, France used a 15-2 run, ignited by Pietrus'
3-pointer, to push ahead 43-30 in the second.

Nowitzki carried his struggling team into halftime, hitting a
fade-away 3 at the buzzer to narrow the deficit to 47-39. The
Dallas Mavericks forward had 19 points by halftime and Parker led
France with 11.

After Germany cut the deficit to 47-45 with 8:13 left in the
third quarter, France closed the period on a 15-4 run and Parker's
shooting was near perfect in the final quarter. Nowitzki was held
to four field goals in the second half.

"Every time we needed to make a play on either end we
couldn't," Germany coach Dirk Bauermann said. "It was one of
those games."

The loss leaves Germany needing wins in its final two Group F
matches to guarantee a place in the elimination round.

A minute's silence in memory of Italian opera singer Luciano
Pavarotti was the only thing that could quiet the Lithuanian fans
all night, as its team went up early and led most of the way before
closing out the victory.

Rimantas Kaukenas led Lithuania with 22 points while Andrea
Bargnani had 15 for Italy. Lithuania also controlled the boards
throughout the game, outrebounding Italy 44-29.

In Group E, Russia has six points, one more than both Spain and
Croatia. Greece and Israel are tied with four and Portugal has
three. Four teams from each group will advance to the
quarterfinals, which begin Thursday.

On Sunday, world champion Spain plays Russia, which has already
qualified for the quarterfinals. Croatia and Greece meet in a match
that could determine which of the two advances and Israel plays
Portugal.