CHICAGO, Dec. 31 -- Elton Brand scored 10 of his 31 points during the decisive second quarter Sunday as the Chicago Bulls coasted to their second straight home win, 86-77 over the New Jersey Nets, who ended the year with a seven-game losing streak.
Brand did most of his second-quarter scoring from the free-throw line, going eight of eight.
He also hit a layup with 2:18 left, 36 seconds before Ron Mercer made one of two free throws to give the Bulls their biggest lead of the first half at 43-33.
Chicago stretched its advantage to 15 points in the third quarter and held on in the fourth, when New Jersey used a 10-4 run and climbed within 67-64 on a layup by Lucious Harris with 5:48 to play.
But the Bulls gradually pulled away and have won two in a row at home for the first time since Feb. 17-19.
Brand also pulled down 16 rebounds and Mercer added 18 points for Chicago, which avenged a 92-82 home loss to the Nets on Nov. 3.
Stephon Marbury had 18 points and seven assists, but made just five of 19 shots from the field for New Jersey, which got 16 points and 14 rebounds from Aaron Williams. But the Nets head into the new year reeling.
They were coming off Thursday's heartbreaking 112-111 loss to Boston, in which they misplayed an inbounds pass with 1.8 seconds left and watched Milt Palacio make a wild 30-footer at the buzzer.