Even if that's just tickets distributed rather than gate count, it's a return to some higher numbers posted earlier in the season and an increase from a previous average that nudged above 15,000.
Photos from last night indicate few empty seats, though those from Friday indicate a good number of cheap seats empty. Note that the announced attendance was 16,722 when the Nets hosted the Knicks December 10; I attended and estimated a 25% fudge factor.
Last year, attendance picked up around the holiday season, as well. But if the Nets sustain some increased attendance, despite the team's surprisingly bad home record (contrasted with its strength on the road), one factor might be the team's effort to distribute free or low-cost tickets.