Anthony Davis, like he does to most opposing centers, got the best of Wendell Carter Jr. on Wednesday night.
But in the Bulls' 107-98 loss to the Pelicans, Carter Jr. also had perhaps the best performance of his young career and joined an elite group that also contains the MVP candidate.
Carter was a monster on both ends of the floor, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. The 19-year-old became the first teenager to tally those numbers since 2015, when Karl-Anthony Towns did it four times. Before Towns, Davis in 2012 was the last teenager to accomplish the feat. And the scary part is that Towns turned 20 in mid-November, Davis turned 20 in March of his rookie season, while Carter will complete his rookie season and still be 19 years old.
Add another chapter to the very young book of Carter's NBA career, which continues to look better and better each time he takes the floor.
Carter's night began ominously, with Davis blocking his turnaround jumper on the game's first possession. But Carter - who faced Davis and the Pelicans in his pro debut during the preseason - stayed the course. He scored on a layup later in the quarter and blocked a Davis layup attempt the next trip down the floor. The first quarter has statistically been Carter's best and most aggressive, and it remained that way. He actually outplayed Davis (that wouldn't last long), tallying four points and four rebounds in the opening period.
Davis' momentum began early in the second quarter with Cris Felicio on the floor - Felicio lasted 8 minutes before deferring to Robin Lopez in the second half - and didn't taper off until the final whistle. He finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 block in 37 minutes, and while Carter couldn't match the MVP candidate bucket for bucket, he more than held his own.
He had three dunks, made another 3-pointer and went 2 of 3 from the free throw line, adding two other blocks in the second half. He finished 7 of 11, his most field goal makes since Halloween night against the Nuggets, but he made those nine shots on 21 attempts. One of those misses likely should have been a foul on Davis, and Fred Hoiberg earned his first technical foul of the season after shouting at officials on the no-call.
Carter won't get that kind of call against Davis as a 19-year-old, but his recent play shows he's closer to gaining that respect. Beginning with his double-double in Atlanta on Oct. 27, Carter has averaged 15.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 28.2 minutes. He's been carrying a Bulls defense that desparately needs him, and playing the majority of his minutes alongside Jabari Parker doesn't make his job any easier.
But even without Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, meaning the frontcourt load is falling on him, Carter is proving that he's the real deal. If feels as though he's drawing headlines each night, and it's because he deserves them. It hasn't resulted in Bulls wins to date, but the Markkanen-Carter frontcourt is going to be a foundation of this Bulls team for some time to come.
It'll be a while until he can hang with Davis for 48 minutes, but for now he'll settle with joining an exclusive club with one of the game's greats.