(Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Atlanta Dream handed the Los Angeles Sparks their first loss of the season Wednesday, with rookie Rhyne Howard leading the way.

Howard led all scorers with 21 points and eight rebounds while shooting 5-of-10 from 3-point range. For the first time since 2017, the Atlanta Dream have begun the season 2-0, led by the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft.

“This is the reason why we moved up to get her. We knew this was what she’s capable of,” Dream coach Tanisha Wright said. “She showed that throughout her collegiate career, so it isn’t a surprise that she’s playing like this. These are the expectations that she knows for us. We’re excited that she’s doing that.

“She’s playing the right way, and that fits into the culture.”

For her part, Howard relishes the responsibility placed on her shoulders.

“I take it head on. I don’t let it cause too much pressure on me,” Howard said. “At the end of the day, it’s not just about me. I take it and feed my energy into my teammates. I would run through a wall for them.”

Megan Walker scored 11 points for the dream, and Cheyenne Parker and Kristy Wallace each added 10 points apiece. The team was 13-for-30 from beyond the 3-point line, their 43.3 percent besting the Sparks’ 31.6 percent.

The game marked the return of Chennedy Carter to Atlanta for the first time since she was suspended from the team last June. She has a fresh start with the Sparks this season, and she didn’t record any points but had a rebound and two assists.

Jordin Canada led all Sparks scorers with 19 points and six rebounds, while Nneka Ogwumike contributed 17 points and 15 rebounds for the double-double. Liz Cambage had 16 points.