George Hill gets nod for Game 6

INDIANAPOLIS -- George Hill was cleared to play and started at point guard for the Indiana Pacers' series-clinching 106-99 win in Game 6 against New York.

Hill played 42 minutes, while tallying 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.

"We just did it by the book, just everything that the league asked for with the protocol," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Hill's recovery. "... The final step is making sure that he's symptom-free after exertion. We did that at shootaround and cleared him to play."

Hill scored 26 points Tuesday night in Game 4 after a first-quarter collision with Knicks center Tyson Chandler. Two days later, after the team's shootaround, Hill was still complaining of headaches. Team doctors then diagnosed him with a concussion, forcing him to sit out Game 5. His replacement, D.J. Augustin, played nearly 39 minutes and had no assists as the Pacers lost 85-75. The win allowed New York to climb back within 3-2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson told reporters Friday that his team was preparing as if Hill would play. At Saturday's shootaround, Woodson explained he wasn't sure what to expect, though the Knicks couldn't let that affect them in Game 6.

"It doesn't matter who plays for them. We've still got to do what we do. It's about what we do at this particular time," Woodson said.

The NBA's protocol states that any player diagnosed with a concussion must be held out of all activities until he is symptom-free at rest and team doctors see no "appreciable" difference between the players' baseline test conducted before the season and the test after the injury.

Then the player must prove he is symptom-free as the level of exertion increases. Team doctors can determine whether the player passes, a decision that must be discussed with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the NBA's director of the concussion program.

The league has not established a timetable for how long players must sit out before returning because each injury is different. Sometimes, the recovery time is quick. Kobe Bryant, for instance, did not miss a game after breaking his nose and being diagnosed with a concussion in February 2012.

"I know back in the day I took some blows and you could've easily called it concussions. But hell, you just played," Woodson said. "That's the policy and I think it's a good policy because, again, this is still a basketball game and you've got to deal with your health. That's more important."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.