- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- It took 82 games plus an extra overtime to secure the matchup, but the Los Angeles Lakers will begin their three-peat bid against a team they swept 4-0 during the regular season.
The Lakers open up the 2011 postseason at Staples Center as the No. 2 seed playing host to the No. 7 seed New Orleans Hornets.
The Lakers rebounded from a season-long five-game losing streak to end the season with two straight victories, capping the season with a nail-biting 116-108 overtime win in Sacramento on Wednesday to match their 57-25 record of a season ago.
L.A. led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter before needing a game-tying 3-pointer by Kobe Bryant with 4.8 seconds left in regulation followed by a game-saving block on Marcus Thornton to end the fourth quarter.
Bryant added five of his game-high 36 points in OT to preserve the win.
The Hornets went 5-5 down the stretch after leading scorer David West (18.9 points per game) went out with a season-ending ACL tear on March 24, but enter the playoffs riding a three-game losing streak after their 121-89 defeat in Dallas on Wednesday.
The Lakers are expected to welcome Andrew Bynum (right knee bone bruise) and Matt Barnes (right knee soreness) back to the lineup for Game 1 of their first-round series, but Steve Blake (chicken pox) could be out for another week, according to Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
The Lakers will begin their three-peat bid against the New Orleans Hornets, a team Los Angeles swept 4-0 during the regular season.