20130429-135523.jpgFast breaks from the Pacers’ sloppy, slogging 85-75 loss to the Knicks in Game 5 Thursday at Madison Square Garden:

>> Are concussions contagious? That might explain the Pacers’ performance. The bright lights of a potential closeout game at the Garden sure made them blink.

>> Not sure what George Hill’s symptoms were, but I’m pretty sure many of us felt the same way while watching the game: headache, nausea, disorientation, not to mention sudden mood swings.

>> They are still ahead 3-2 but, make no mistake, the Pacers are in a little bit of trouble here, especially if Hill cannot return for Game 6. And the NBA’s concussion protocols stand directly in the way. Once a player fails a concussion test, he has to show he can perform increasing stages of exertion, one at a time, to see if the symptoms return. According to a report published by NBA.com when the new protocols were announced, the process “will likely take at least several days, if not weeks.” Or, if you’re Tyler Hansbrough, most of a season.

>> The timing of this whole thing was particularly brutal. Hill was elbowed in the head on a Tyson Chandler screen early in Game 4 but seemed unaffected, scoring 26 points and leading the Pacers to victory. But he started having bad headaches that would not relent and after the shootaround Thursday morning decided to take the concussion test. Coach Frank Vogel learned his point guard was out at 4 p.m., roughly four hours before tipoff.

>> D.J. Augustin said he found out on the bus to the arena when the coaches asked him how many minutes he could play. His answer: as many as you need. He wound up playing 39 and scored 12 points but did not have an assist. He didn’t stink, but neither did he impress.

>> All involved put the brave, next-man-up spin on their postgame comments. In fact, they might’ve overdone it. Asked about the impact of Hill’s absence on the game, Vogel said, “I don’t think it has anything to do with it. We’ve got plenty to beat the Knicks with or without George Hill.” I suspect he was trying to channel Tom Thibodeau.

>> Paul George said Hill’s absence had “no impact at all.”

>> We get it, you don’t want to make excuses. But it’s OK to say you miss the veteran point guard, the guy with the ring, one of two grown men in the starting lineup. It was almost insulting to Hill, the way they tried so hard to shrug it off.

>> As for the game itself, you really only have to look at two numbers: 19 turnovers and 14 missed free throws. Cut either of those and the Pacers are getting ready for a rematch with LeBron and D-Wade.

>> George had a rare game in which the numbers in the box score exceeded his actual impact (23 points, six rebounds, six assists). David West had the least impressive 17-point, 10-rebound double-double you can imagine. And what was left of the bench got outscored 35-10, which is pretty ridiculous, even for this bunch.

>> At one point in the fourth quarter, the Pacers were trying to rally with Lance Stephenson at the point, flanked on the wings by Gerald Green and Sam Young. No, they didn’t miss Hill. His absence had no impact at all.

>> Even with all of that, the Pacers were down 75-71 with 6:41 remaining. The only bucket they got the rest of the way came from Green.

>> And still, they were down 83-75 with 2:22 remaining and then got three straight defensive stops. But the offense went turnover, turnover, turnover, two missed free throws, and that was that.

>> Let’s let Hibbert sum this up: “We just did not come to play and there’s no excuses. We didn’t deserve to win and just because we’re going back home doesn’t guarantee a win. To tell you the truth, we’ve got to figure it out, man up, toughen up, sack up and just try to close this thing out.”


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