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Bulls Vs. Heat Score Update: Miami Closes 1st Half Strong For 42-40 Lead

In a showdown to start the final week of the season, the Miami Heat lead the Chicago Bulls 42-40 after 24 minutes at AmericanAirlines Arena. It was a back-and-forth game, but the Heat closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run and the second quarter on a 7-2 run to the the slim lead into the locker room at half.

Dwyane Wade was added to the lineup just before tip, as Erik Spoelstra put out a starting five that had never played before. Wade has been resting as the season winds down, but Miami is looking for a statement win in the final week against the other top team in the Eastern Conference. Wade is just 2 of 7 from the floor so far, contributing five points. LeBron James, however, has been red hot lately and he had a dominant first half, scoring 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds. An impressive performance on the national stage against the Bulls could push James ahead of Durant for good in the MVP race.

The Bulls are playing without their leader, reigning MVP Derrick Rose who continues to rest with an assortment of injuries. Joakim Noah has picked up the scoring slack inside, leading Chicago with 11 points. He's the only Bulls player in double figures.

Miami did lose three-point ace James Jones in the second quarter, after he was whistled for a flagrant-two foul and ejected. Jones went high on a box out of Joakim Noah, taking his arms and elbows to the neck and head of Noah as he faced up to pivot and try to move the Bulls pesky big man. But the officials saw it, and after both parties exchanged words and the refs reviewed it, he was sent to the locker room for the night.

For more news, analysis, and discussion on Miami, visit SB Nation's Heat blog, Peninsula Is Mightier. For the perspective from the other side, visit SB Nation Chicago and SB Nation's Bulls blog, Blog A Bull. For news and notes from around the league, be sure to follow SB Nation's NBA hub.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.