A "Suicide Squad" Grizzlies roster featuring just eight players - none of which were Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, or Mike Conley - stormed into the Quicken Loans Arena and came away with a stunning 106-103 victory.
After the game, a forlorn James refused to write off the loss. He chose instead to lay into his team.
"I can sit up here and say that we're a team that's ready to start the playoffs tomorrow, but we're not," James told Dave McMenamin of ESPN. "We're still learning. We still have things that happen on the court that just, that shouldn't happen."
The King couldn't have been happy with Cleveland's flagrant carelessness. They committed a season-high 25 turnovers which directly led to 30 points for the Grizzlies.
To be fair, the team that Memphis trotted out wasn't anything close to the cast the Cavaliers studied in film session. That's no excuse for allowing a host of second- and third-stringers like JaMychal Green, Mario Chalmers, and Tony Allen to combine for 59 points, though.
"I was (surprised)," James said of the Grizzlies' personnel. "I was, especially because we had gone over everything with the expectation of those guys being in the lineup this morning, and to get here before the game and to find out that no one, pretty much, that we went over, played."
James was the only Cavalier who looked ready to play. His 28 points were a game high, and he tacked on nine rebounds and five assists. Kyrie Irving added an efficient 27 points, but he gave some of that back on his seven turnovers. The other three starters combined to shoot 5-of-23 from the field.
Moreover, it was a game Cleveland shouldn't have lost, considering it had a severely undermanned Grizzlies team playing the second leg of a back-to-back on the road. The Cavaliers should've closed the deal.
"We just could have done a better job of respecting the game," said Kevin Love, who shot 2-of-9 from the field for 14 points. "A team like that, they were going to come out and swing for the fences, and they did. That was a real bad loss for us."