The aura of invincibility is gone. The Warriors are still the best team in the league, but they are not an unstoppable juggernaut. Stephen Curry can't win games by himself. They are still the favorite to win it all, but they won't cruise through the regular season beating down on everyone. They are not perfect.
As obvious as those statements seem now, it took a 113-95 loss at full strength at the hands of the Pistons to make them ring true. Rationality went out the window sometime after another Curry 30-footer make, and is coming back now that the rigors of the regular season are getting to Golden State.
It's unfair to ask the Warriors to continue to play at the superlative level they did earlier in the year, when they were destroying anyone that crossed their path. At some point, they were going to have the normal lows that any team goes through during an 82-game season. Yet with their historic start they set the bar so high that any loss feels like a huge letdown, no matter the circumstances.
The Pistons played very well. They were sharp on defense, they attacked the basket and they didn't make many mistakes. Their bench outplayed the Warriors', which couldn't buy a shot. Harrison Barnes had a hard time adjusting in his return to the starting lineup. Curry, who dropped 38 points, is not even fully healthy and Klay Thompson, who is streaky by nature, wasn't on against Detroit.
There's really nothing about this loss that suggests there's an underlying problem. After all, both the Cavaliers and the Spurs -- the Warriors' two biggest threats -- have dropped random games against a rival from a different conference that suddenly gets hot. The problem is the Warriors got so close to perfection for such a long time that it's now hard not to be surprised when they look flawed. Two losses in three games seems unacceptable from a team that won its first 24 to start the season.
The Warriors haven't really gotten off track. Lingering injuries, boredom over a long season and inspired opponents have made them look mortal over the past week. They will have the opportunity to become the scary monster they were earlier in the year with a win over the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Monday, something they are more than capable of doing. The luster that now seems gone could return with a good streak.
If it doesn't, we'll all have to accept that the Warriors, while special, are not the perfect team that we -- and perhaps even they -- thought they were.
3 other things we learned
The Hornets can't stop their free fall
The Hornets were 17-13 for the season not long ago and held the second-best record in the East for a little while. They were not contenders but they looked like a playoff team. Since then they have lost nine of their last 10 games and after their 105-92 defeat at the hands of the Bucks, they are 3.5 games away from the eighth seed. Their playoff hopes are dwindling fast.
Saturday's game is a good example of everything that's going wrong with the team. Nicolas Batum, who was playing like a star earlier in the year, went 2-10. Cody Zeller (2 for 6 from the floor, one assist) can't create for himself or others, unlike the injured Al Jefferson. The bench is solid but any group featuring Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lin and Spencer Hawes will lack defense.
It's hard to imagine the Hornets turning things around but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returning in February and a move at the deadline could right the ship. For now, the Hornets need to stop the bleeding with a win on Monday against the Jazz.
The Celtics still have trouble closing games
The Celtics escaped with a win over the Wizards on Saturday but they could have easily squandered a late five-point lead thanks to the multiple mistakes they made. Had John Wall made a layup he would typically have no problem getting to fall, they would have had to win it in overtime.
This is a running theme on the Celtics' season. They simply find ways to shoot themselves in the foot late. Part of it has to do with the inexperience of some of the young players. Against the Wizards, sophomore Marcus Smart made mistakes that he surely won't commit in a couple of years.
The Celtics are a playoff team now, however, but they won't get far in the postseason without better late-game execution. Brad Stevens has his work cut out for him.
The Clippers' winning streak is over
After 10 straight wins, the Clippers finally lost. Cole Aldrich got his second start of the year and had a great performance, finishing the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks, but he wasn't enough to mask the absences of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Kings used balance scoring and a solid defense to get a rare road win, 110-103.
The Clippers' streak never seemed particularly impressive, as there were no heavy hitters in the list of teams they beat, but any team that wins 10 straight deserves commendation. Los Angeles was without Blake Griffin for most of it, too, which makes it impressive regardless of opponents. More importantly, the streak allowed them to get some separation from other West teams in the race for the fourth seed and homecourt in the first round.
Play of the night
Stephen Curry could probably shoot 35 percent from the center court logo.