Dream improve to 4-1 for best start since 2017

Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard leads the celebration after a 77-75 home-opener victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The Dream is 4-1 this season. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard leads the celebration after a 77-75 home-opener victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The Dream is 4-1 this season. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

INDIANAPOLIS — Rhyne Howard scored 19 points, Cheyenne Parker added 17 and the Atlanta Dream beat the Indiana Fever 101-79 on Tuesday night.

The Dream (4-1) are off to their best start since 2017 when they won four of their first five games but then won just eight of the last 29 — including a nine-game losing streak.

Erica Wheeler had a season-high 16 points and rookie Kristy Wallace added a career-best 15 for Atlanta. Wallace was a second-round pick from Baylor in 2018 and made her WNBA debut in the season opener after playing professionally in her native Australia the last four seasons.

Howard hit 3-pointers to start and end an 11-2 opening run, and the Dream never trailed. Wheeler made a basket to give Atlanta a 17-point lead late in the second quarter, and Indiana trailed by double figures throughout the second half.

Victoria Vivians led Indiana (2-4) with 16 points. Danielle Robinson and Kelsey Mitchell score 12 points apiece.

NaLyssa Smith, the No. 2 overall selection in last month’s draft, did not play for the Fever due to an ankle injury suffered in Atlanta’s 85-79 win over the Fever on Sunday. Emily Engstler, who was taken two picks after Smith and replaced her in the starting lineup, finished with seven points and a season-high 10 rebounds.