PHOENIX — If he ever wants to forget the chaos of last season or the frantic few years he spent coaching the New York Knicks, Mike D'Antoni can always remember his time in the desert.
He was a Robert Horry hip check from coaching a deep playoff run with the Phoenix Suns, the franchise where he made his mark with a run-and-gun system that turned Steve Nash into a two-time league most valuable player.
He's come back here enough since leaving in 2008 that it's another ordinary step in an 82-game schedule. Yet there was still polite pre-game applause for D'Antoni before the Suns beat the Lakers on Monday, 117-90.
"I spent six years here and they were the best," D'Antoni said. "The group of guys, ownership and everybody was pointed in the same direction. That's what's fun."
The Suns were on their way to tying San Antonio in Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference semifinals when Horry bumped Nash into the scorer's table as the former Suns guard quickly dribbled down court. Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, key players for Phoenix at the time, were each suspended one game for leaving the bench in an ensuing skirmish.
The Suns were deflated by the NBA's decision and lost in six to San Antonio.
"The group that we had and the run that we went on and the journey ... we didn't get to the end, but I wouldn't change that for the world," D'Antoni said. "You try to duplicate it — I don't think you can do better — but you try to duplicate it wherever you go. We just got the right elements, the right people and it worked out."
D'Antoni was the 2005 NBA coach of the year.
A Phoenix journalist pointed out Monday that D'Antoni always wanted to coach Kobe Bryant but hadn't really had that chance this season. Bryant has missed 22 of the Lakers' 28 games.
"Oh, yeah," D'Antoni said. "You hate it for anybody. And obviously we're doing the same thing with Steve Nash. Time goes on and people get hurt, and you've just got to deal with it."
Point guard help?
If Jordan Farmar is cleared by a doctor Tuesday morning, he can practice with the team in the afternoon and possibly play Wednesday against Miami.
"Yes, I'm optimistic, but it's not my leg," D'Antoni said. "He's got to do one more hurdle. If that works, then he'll play [Wednesday]. If not, then it will be a few more days."
Farmar has missed 10 games because of a torn left hamstring. He is averaging 9.2 points and 4.4 assists.