Nowitzki scores 35 points to lead Germany over Czechs in OT; France, Russia also win
MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki had 35 points and 11 rebounds in Germany's 83-78 overtime victory against the Czech Republic on the opening day of the European basketball championships Monday.
In Alicante, Tony Parker scored 16 and France held off Poland 74-66, and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jaka Lakovic lifted Slovenia past Olympic runner-up Italy 69-68 in Group D.
Defending champion Greece opened with a 76-66 win over Israel in a Group A match in Granada, and Andrei Kirilenko's 24 points and 12 rebounds led Russia over Serbia 73-65.
NBA All-Star forward Pau Gasol scored 19 and Spain routed Portugal 82-56 in Seville to begin its campaign to become the third country to lift the European trophy while holding the world title. Latvia surprised Croatia 85-77 in the other Group B match.
In Group C, three-time winner Lithuania rolled past Turkey 85-69.
At Palma de Mallorca, Nowitzki scored 19 second-half points and four more in overtime as Germany rallied from an early deficit in their Group C game.
"This was a lot tougher than we thought it would be," the Dallas Mavericks star said. "But it was good that we held together."
The Czechs led 31-25 at halftime thanks to 10 points from forward Lubos Barton.
But the Germans rallied in the second half behind Nowitzki, who hit a 3-pointer to spark a 10-1 run that put Germany ahead 46-44 in the fourth quarter.
The NBA MVP connected on a turnaround jumper from the top of the key to keep the Germans ahead 72-68 with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Czechs closed to within 74-72 with 20 seconds to go and Ladislav Sokolovsky sank two free throws to tie the game and Mithat Demirel's last-second shot missed.
Nowitzki's second field goal in overtime put Germany ahead by three with 49 seconds to go. Jakob Houska dunked after a Barton miss to pull the Czechs within one with 29 seconds left, but a pair of Demirel free throws and a dunk by Demond Greene clinched it for the Germans.
In Group D, the lead changed four times in the last 30 seconds, but it was Lakovic who was swarmed by teammates after the Slovenia guard buried a 3-pointer over two Italian defenders from four feet behind the line for the win.
Earlier, France shot 42 percent from the field and had four players score in double figures.
Leading 13-12, Boris Diaw hit a 3-pointer then Parker connected on a layup and two subsequent free throws as France pushed ahead for good.
At Granada, Greece guard Vasileios Spanoulis scored 19 points, and forwards Konstantinos Tsartsaris and Dimosthenis Ntikoudis added 15 each as the defending champions pulled away after the last-minute qualifiers kept pace in the first half, which ended tied at 31.
Andrei Kirilenko scored 16 in the second half and Russia held off a Serbian side that shot only 33 percent from the field.
Russia watched a 16-point first-half lead shrink to six before Nikita Morgunov's jumper at the halftime horn ended a 15-5 Serbian run.
After Milenko Tepic missed a chance to put Serbia ahead with 1:59 to go in the third, Kirilenko completed a three-point play to stretch Russia's lead to 51-46. Serbia closed to within three on its next possession before Russia slowly pulled away with Morgunov sinking a 3-pointer to hike the lead to 10 with 1:02 remaining.
In Seville, fans laid flowers and lit candles outside the San Pablo Municipal Stadium for Sevilla FC midfielder Antonio Puerta, who died Tuesday after he collapsed during a Spanish league soccer match and had several subsequent heart attacks.
Inside, Gasol's 3-pointer moved Spain ahead of Portugal 10-8 and the hosts closed the half on a 36-13 run, allowing coach Pepu Hernandez to give all of his squad playing time except guard Juan Carlos Navarro, who is absent for the first round with a leg injury.
Spain next plays Latvia, which earlier had five players in double figures, including center Andris Biedrins with 14, against Croatia.
Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 18 and fellow NBA players Darius Songaila and Linas Kleiza had 12 apiece against Turkey.
The top-three from each group advance into the second round of group play, which will decide the quarterfinals.
From: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=a ... ;type=lgns