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Was Izod Center 89% full or "half-empty"?

The announced attendance at the basketball game Friday night between the New Jersey Nets and the Detroit Pistons was 17,767, meaning the Izod Center, which has a capacity of 19,968 (the box score in the New York Times said 19,900) was 89% full.

The New York Times described the arena as "half-empty." Could it be that a lot of ticket-holders just didn't show up?

While some photos of the game suggest that sections of the arena were close to full, other photos confirm that there were a lot of empty seats, if not necessarily 50%. See here, here, here, and here.