The second half of the season was supposed to be when the rebuilding Wizards prove they can find a way to take their strong play at Verizon Center with them on the road.

Instead, they capped off the season’s first 41 games by bringing their poor performances away from home back to the District, regressing badly with a road-like meltdown in a 109-91 defeat to surging Phoenix in front of 15,716.

“It felt like a road game,” said Wizards guard John Wall. “We didn’t have no heart. We didn’t have no fight. We just gave up pretty quickly.”

All this from the same group of Wizards (12-29) that needed slightly more than eight minutes to open an 11-point lead in the first quarter and took 53-52 lead into halftime. But while they congratulated themselves in the locker room during the break, the Suns (20-21) remembered there was still a half to play and adjusted appropriately to win their fifth game in a row.

Nick Young, who racked up 20 points in the first half, was held to five shots and five points in the final two periods. Wizards head coach Flip Saunders explained the change with two words – “Grant Hill,” who the Suns sent to guard Young after the break – but according to Hill (12 points), there was no change at all.

“They were running the same old plays for Nick Young,” said Hill.

“He was telling me they was reading the plays every time we called it,” said Young.

While Wall (11 points) racked up nine of his 14 assists in the first eight minutes, Steve Nash (17 points) spread an equal amount over three periods, which was all Phoenix needed to put the game out of reach. With Nash penetrating at will, all Channing Frye (25 points) had to do was plant himself at the three-point line, where he matched his career-high with seven makes, including a three in a row during a 15-4 run just after halftime to break Washington’s back. Even Vince Carter (12 points, 10 rebounds) got into the act with a dunk to make up for his 1 for 9 first half.

But Washington was worse, shooting just 35 percent (22 for 63) over the final three periods.

“We turned into ourselves, like we always do in the third quarter,” said Andray Blatche, who needed 17 shots for 14 points. “Everybody tried to put the team on their shoulders, and that’s not the kind of team we are. We have no person on this team, including myself, that’s a Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade. We have to continue to swing the ball and work as a team, as a unit. That’s how we always get the lead in the first quarter. We came in at halftime and just forgot what works for us.”

The cracks started showing even earlier, as the Wizards let the Suns back into the contest by sending them to the line in the second quarter. Phoenix made 10 of 12 attempts at the line in the period, including four from reserve center Marcin Gortat (13 points, 14 rebounds), while Washington hit just 2 of 4.

Both the confidence and the rotation unraveled from there. While Rashard Lewis (16 points, 12 rebounds) played 38 minutes despite battling knee tendonitis that could limit his effectiveness on Saturday against Boston, JaVale McGee (four points, three rebounds) was benched for the final 17 minutes. Kirk Hinrich also left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right elbow and is doubtful for the Celtics game, which will complete the first of five consecutive sets of back-to-back games that Washington will play over the next two weeks.

“We’ve got to keep playing,” said Lewis. “When they made their run and built the lead, we made some mistakes, put our heads down and stopped playing in the third quarter. That’s when you’ve got to keep playing. A team like Phoenix will let you back in the game if you shoot the ball well and play defense, because they are an offensive team, and they don’t play very good D. We’ve got to learn to keep playing through mistakes.”