Amar’e Stoudemire appeared to take exception to J.R. Smith’s recent remarks the Knicks aren’t showing enough “heart’’ during this free fall that continued with Sunday’s 109-90 blowout loss to the Bulls.
Stoudemire indicated the controversial Smith perhaps isn’t one to judge character.

“You have to look at yourself in the mirror before we make statements,’’ Stoudemire said when asked about the comments. “We got to make sure you’re playing hard first. You take care of yourself and then everyone else will follow suit. Until you do it yourself, then you can lead by example.’’

Stoudemire, who had a solid game with 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting before fouling out, was the voice of the locker room in his first two seasons, but that has changed with his more limited role amid injury woes. In fact, when Stoudemire spoke up on an early-season West Coast trip, he got chastised by Mike Woodson. Stoudemire had criticized the team for lacking ball movement. It’s an issue still plaguing the club.

Stoudemire made an interesting reference Sunday when asked about ball movement after the Knicks registered just 17 assists on 35 made field goals, compared to the Bulls’ 30 on 39 field goals.
“I’ve been saying it for years’’ Stoudemire said. “But it seems when I say it, it’s not the problem. Defense is the problem. It’s a double-edged sword.’’

Stoudemire’s availability for the remainder of the season will be of interest as the Knicks are close to being out of the playoff race and there may be a movement to rest him more. As much as they would like to trade his expiring contract this summer, it will be a challenge.