Paul: Hornets can improve in absence

NEW ORLEANS -- Chris Paul limped out of the locker room using one crutch, then suggested that his left knee injury could help the New Orleans Hornets in the long run.

"Me being out, this may be a blessing in disguise," said Paul, meeting with reporters for the first time since last Thursday's surgery to repair a meniscus tear. "Some people may say, 'What in the world does that mean?' But I think it gives other guys a lot of confidence right now. Hopefully when I come back ... we can make a push at this playoff run."

Paul missed his seventh game since the injury when the Hornets hosted the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. New Orleans was 2-4 in the previous six without him, falling in the Western Conference standings below the eighth and final playoff spot.

Paul said he expected to be out another three to five weeks, but added that his injury occurred at a fortuitous time because this weekend's All-Star break falls during his rehabilitation.

"I definitely didn't want this to happen, but if it happened, this is a good time because we do get ... a few more days to try to get back," said Paul, who recently was named to his third-straight Western Conference All-Star team. "I'm just happy that the surgery went well. Rehab is going great and now I can at least travel with the team and go see games."

Earlier in the day, Paul also was selected for the United States national team that will compete in the world championships in Turkey this summer.

Before tip-off against the Celtics, the New Orleans Arena public address announcer acknowledged Paul's selection. Paul stood near mid court and held up his Team USA jersey to the delight of the crowd.

"I'm excited. We had so much fun [in Beijing] in '08, I told them in '08 I wanted to be a part of it again," Paul said. "I want to win another gold medal. If I'm healthy in 2016, I want another one."

Although he won't be able to play in the All-Star game, Paul said he'll attend the festivities in Dallas this weekend.

"I'm taking our trainer with me so I'm going to be doing rehab" in Dallas, he said.

"I definitely wanted to play in that game, especially with all the fans, it being Cowboys Stadium," Paul continued. "I'm just happy to be an All-Star. The fact I can at least go sit on the bench, it's an honor. But stuff happens. I think everything happens for a reason so hopefully I can come back better from this."